July 1: Back on the horse

From the beginning, I’ve always said JUST 15 minutes a day. The simplicity of fitfor15in15 originally focused on doing just 15 minutes of exercise a day. Then I fell out of love with that idea for some reason – my motivation went south.

Some goals had been reached, I felt better and fitter, and then I just stopped caring. I think half of that hard work over the first four months of the year was lost in just a few weeks. So, it’s time to re-start the engines, jump back on the horse, re-join the circus … however you’d like to describe it! And it will be slowly slowly.

Have you thought about what you’d like to achieve in the next six months? I’d like to get moving again, get back into doing my stretches and go for more runs in the forest. I’d love to run 10km by the end of the year. Not in a race, just on a nice forest trail. And I’d like to return to the workout/exercise videos that I really enjoyed at the height of my fixation!

It’s 27 degrees inside the house (with windows and doors open!) at 10.30pm – now’s as good a time as any to start again, right?!?! I’m about to do 15 minutes of stretches and lunges with the hand weights. This is going to be interesting (and sweaty)! I thought about going back to January 1 and re-doing everything from the beginning, in the same order, but it’s too late to go walking now!

My friend Leonie and her kids Maya and Sebastian came over for a swim this afternoon. It was 26.5 degrees Celsius in the water. The Aare river is already 20 degrees too, and with the warm weather predicted for the next week, it may even reach about 22 degrees – not bad for a river coming directly from the Bernese Alps. Could the pool reach 30?!

We had a great afternoon and not one photo to show for it. I really enjoy Leonie’s company and not just because she’s a fellow Aussie. Lotti and Fritz joined us in the shade of the tent as well. Lotti told me Rene is back in hospital – they think he had a little stroke a few days ago, so he’s staying in for observation. I really hope he’s going to be ok. The doctors are worried a bigger stroke might follow.

On that sombre note, I’ll sign off … wishing you a wonderful day.

April 28: Triple-A treat

Today’s workout is a Triple-A treat. A triple treat of As.

15 minutes of arms, abs and arse (or as the Americans say, ass, the Germans say, hintern, the French say, derriere, and the British say, bottom).

Squats, lunges, push-ups, plank …

Feel the need to write a poem but can’t think of a line to go next …

Ok, here goes …

 

Squats, lunges, push-ups, plank

While they’re being done, your mind goes blank

All you want to do is improve your rank

When they’re all finished, your body says thank … you.

 

If I had a job, I wouldn’t quit it, don’t worry!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 18: Squats and binging

Doesn’t the word binging look like bing-ing and not binge-ing? Ahh, how I love the English language.

Well, we’ve done a lot of binging today – I made Anzac biscuits using molasses instead of golden syrup, and instead of being biscuits they all melted together to form a giant slab. But it still tastes ok. Here is the story of the Anzac biscuit, with a recipe from legendary chef Margaret Fulton, from the ABC website.

And we binged all afternoon on season three of “The Killing”, which I am happy to say is now finished. Only six episodes of season four left to go for this program. It’s been good, ok, sometimes brilliant, sometimes funny, but sometimes I have had no sympathy for the lead character, Sarah, at all and if I don’t have any feeling for them then sometimes it’s hard to really get involved. Peter Sarsgaard played an incredible role in season three – he stole the show and I really enjoyed watching him.

Today’s exercise was pretty basic – squats, lunges and some push-ups for 15 minutes, in front of the tv. My friend Karie, the runner, recently mentioned she was proud of her arms, and they were in good shape. I asked for advice. “Push-ups, push-ups and more push-ups,” she said. I’m going to add push-ups into every routine!

  • Physically Fit: 15 minutes of squats, lunges, push-ups etc
  • Mentally Fit: Finishing season three of “The Killing”
  • Nutritionally Fit: Ate too many home-made Anzac biscuits
  • Minimalism: No contribution

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 4: 15 minutes of weighted squats and lunges

The quote at the top of this new blog I follow made me smirk. It really is true! And after three months of constant exercise and ignoring my diet, it’s now time to make some changes, because I’ve just been driving in the mud with a clean car, so to speak, while forming this good habit.

So, I’m going to become my own worst nightmare and be a foodie for say, oh, two months. As in, I’ll actually start to care about what goes in. Well, maybe not this weekend as it’s Easter, but I’ll start next week, when we’re on holiday … Yeah right, ok, I’ll start the week after. Honest like. Monday April 13 is the day it all begins.

Today was a very low-key exercise day with just 15 minutes of various squats and lunges with the hand weights, because tomorrow we go on an Easter egg hunt! Yesterday, Pastora and her husband Leo came to our house to paint Easter eggs, and then today both Leos hid them in a secret forest (not near our house).

Making the eggs was a test of patience but lots of fun. We searched the nearby woods for leaves and flowers to make some patterns on the eggs and used the dry outer shells of onions to make the colour – some turned out much better than others, but overall we’ve very happy with our Easter art!

Wishing you a wonderful day. Hope the bunny made it to your door.

fitfor15in15

Leo holding our bag of goodies – leaves and twigs and flowers and grasses – to decorate the eggs

fitfor15in15

Lovely moss in the forest

fitfor15in15

Me trying to blend in to my environment

fitfor15in15

Leo preparing the stockings at the work table. The stockings kept the plant material on the egg for the cooking and dying process

fitfor15in15

Cutting the stockings away to reveal the patterned egg

fitfor15in15

This one turned out well!

fitfor15in15

After a few hours work, we had 40 eggs

March 9: The 7-Minute Workout

Quite a while ago, my friend Melissa told me about The 7-Minute Workout, so finally I’ve put it to the test (for reasons explained further below).

I’ve downloaded the app to my phone as well. The internet version I’ve linked to above makes a beep during the 30 seconds you’re doing the exercise and then goes silent to let you know when to rest, which doesn’t happen on the app.

There’s a 10 second pause between each of the 12 exercises. Within the seven minutes you do star jumps, a wall sit, push ups, abdominal crunches, step-ups onto a chair, squats, tricep dips on a chair, plank, high knees running in place, lunges, push ups with rotations and side planks. You’ll need space to rest against a wall, a stable chair or ledge to step up onto, and a stable chair or desk to lean on for the tricep dips.

Doing this workout twice, followed by a minute of leg stretches, gives you a fast and effective fitfor15in15 workout. I’m glad I had it up my sleeve as a backup (thanks Melissa!) because it wasn’t the plan for today – I thought I’d go running, but my social nature caught me out.

My neighbour (and owner of all the land and buildings here) started the ride-on mower, for the first time since autumn, so I went outside to say hello. And before you know it, I had a broom in hand and was sweeping leaves our of nooks and crannies so he could suck them up with the mower! There’s been a lot of leaves about the place since the snow’s melted, so there was plenty to do. Two hours worth of it! But I’m glad it’s done, it looks much neater now and feels a bit more like spring.

fitfor15in15

The grass looked brown from all the leaves covering it. Pretty much all gone (til the next big wind!)

The brooms we use here are so old school and would be perfect for witches. (They’re incredibly effective and make a great Harry Potter toy for visitors with kids!) Even the local councils still use this style of broom; a classic design that still holds its own.

fitfor15in15

My trusty steed

fitfor15in15

A simple and effective broom which looks the part too

So I’m back from my little holiday blogging break and will be writing daily again (until the next holiday perhaps?!). If you’d like to read about our weekend in Strasbourg, with a photo gallery, please click here.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 5: fitfor15in15’s 43 for 43

I love a bit of a play on numbers so today, for my 43rd birthday, I’m going to do 43 various exercises for 43 seconds each! This, my friends, is the silliness I’ve been gearing up for over the past few days. Sorry if it’s a disappointment!

A few months ago, if someone had asked if I even knew 43 different exercises, I would have struggled. But now, thanks to all the different fitness videos from the past two months, I had a ball choosing which ones I wanted to do. Decisions were made on the fly, so it probably doesn’t flow very well, but I didn’t want to do all arms first and then all legs etc; the focus changes regularly.

Here’s a table of what I did and how many repetitions (in brackets) I could manage within the 43 second time frame set aside for each exercise:

  1. Normal crunches – lying on the back and small pulses up (26)
  2. Crunches to the left – with the left arm low, bending to touch outside of left foot (24)
  3. Crunches to the right – with the right arm low, bending to touch outside of right foot (25)
  4. Star jumps (43)
  5. Standing bent knees to alternate elbow (40)
  6. Standing like a star, touch right hand to left foot, straight legged, stand straight, alternate (17)
  7. Deep squats – legs and feet together, squat deep then up to standing position (19)
  8. Deep squats – feet hip width apart, toes out, squat deep to standing (17)
  9. Angel wings – holding weights, standing tall, move arms straight up and down in arc (18)
  10. Straight arm dead lifts – straight arms in front of body, lift to eye level and back down (17)
  11. Bicep curls with tins – bending at elbows, arms close to body (28)
  12. Tricep curls with tins – arms bent backwards, bending at elbows, forward and back (29)
  13. Left jab with tin – left foot forward in boxer pose, sharp, quick punches (54)
  14. Right cross with tin – still with left foot forward, twist through the oblique on extension (43)
  15. Right jab with tin – right foot forward in boxer pose, sharp, quick punches (54)
  16. Left cross with tin – still with right foot forward, twist through the oblique on extension (43)
  17. Skipping with single feet
  18. Skipping with feet together, more like a jump
  19. Forward lunges on both sides (forgot to count)
  20. Backwards lunges on both sides (14)
  21. Right side lunges – taking right foot wide and sinking low, from centre stance (16)
  22. Left side lunges – from centre standing position, place foot wide to left, then back (16)
  23. Plank
  24. Swimming – lying on stomach, slightly lift arms and legs, beating alternately
  25. Back bow – like swimming pose, but lift arms and legs all at same time (23)
  26. Calf raises – using a door frame, sink low and raise to tip-toe
  27. Pulse squats – sink low with legs together, at lowest point start small pulses (46)
  28. Pulse squats – sink low with legs wide apart, toes facing out, at lowest point pulse (56)
  29. Push-ups on knees (22)
  30. Standing butterfly swim with tins – in a squat position, push hands out, sweep back (22)
  31. Wide squat and low punches with tins – back bent, punch opposite hand to foot (forgot!)
  32. Straight leg toe tap – using tins, straight leg march, opposite hand to foot (33)
  33. Mountain climbers (MC) normal – alternate foot tap (not jumping) (45)
  34. MC right – tapping right foot lightly to floor, close to elbow (12 on toes, 12 on knees)
  35. MC left – tapping left foot lightly (12 on toes, 15 on knees)
  36. Rowing balance V pose – balancing on bum, arms come back like a rower as legs go out (21)
  37. Back baby bend – lying on back, with legs bent, knees to side, reach arms through and curl (23)
  38. Standing upper cuts with tins – upper cut boxer punches, nice and fast
  39. Shoulder press with tins – reach both arms over head, elbows come back to shoulder height (22)
  40. Camel pose pulses – sitting high on knees, lean back and pulse to stretch quads (30)
  41. Butt kickers – running on spot as fast as you can with feet trying to touch your bum
  42. Hook punches – standing in loose squat, elbows shoulder height, swing arms round
  43. Burpees (11)

Yep I saved the best for last. I hate burpees! If you don’t know how to do them have a look here. I didn’t do the push up in her version, just the legs out and in and jumping up.

I’m really pleased I managed the entire plank on my feet and didn’t sink to my knees. This means my core is getting stronger!

So that’s my birthday fitfor15in15 for you! It’s been a great day so far – Leo served prosecco and cake as breakfast in bed, then I spent a few hours responding to emails and messages which was great (my family and most of my friends are in Australia, so the time difference meant they’d messaged me while I was asleep) and now it’s time to get ready for dinner. We’re going to a fancy steak restaurant in the city, where I’m sure I’ll have a few beers and maybe a glass of red as well. And maybe cake … but probably not (never say never!) because I’ll be full from dinner … and as I must keep reminding myself, I’ve already had cake today!

And before you go, please check out fitfor15in15s fourth guest contributor post from outdoor enthusiast Kate Lehmann. Kate thought she’d never stop being a hiker, but a new challenge came along and has been grabbed with both hands, literally.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

fitfor15in15

Leo bringing the cake upstairs for breakfast

fitfor15in15

I took it from the angle that switched the numbers! Ha! Not sure why, I don’t mind being 43!

fitfor15in15

Another wonderful bunch of flowers from Leo. Love the colours!

fitfor15in15

Feeling sweaty but good!

March 2: Exercise to boost your mood

Does the weather affect your mood? Do you skip to the beach when it’s sunny or feel like crying when it rains? Do you crack the SADs in cold weather or dread an allergy onslaught in spring? Does the wind make you wicked?

What a strange phenomenon the weather is. It’s raining here today, wild weather in fact, and I feel like bawling. The wind is so strong it’s blown small bits of stuff from inside the roof onto my pillow. (We live in a very old house.)

I did a bit of research on how much the weather can affect our moods and, of course, there’s no outright yes or no for everyone because we’re all different. There are, however, some who feel it more than others. Here’s an interesting article from a psychological perspective and another about bad weather making a bad mood worse.

Seems I’m in a bad mood today! (That exclamation mark was added through gritted teeth.) So … how to turn that frown upside down? With a bit of exercise perhaps?

There are hundreds of articles about exercise improving your mood (examples here, here and here), so even if I wasn’t committed to doing at least 15 minutes a day this year, hopefully I would have looked to exercise as a great get-out-of-the-doldrums solution. Hopefully! *gritted teeth*

After thinking who would lift my spirits the most, it was a contest between Daniel and Kelli from Fitness Blender and Jillian Michaels. It’s been a while since I’ve done a workout with Jillian, and this is the reason I went with her 30 Day Shred Workout Level 2.

I really didn’t want to exercise today. Really, really, really didn’t want to. Listening to the crazy weather made me want to stay in bed, and I did until quite late. But at least I finished a book – reading has been very neglected of late.

Jumping around with Jillian – actually, no, that’s an alliteration over-exaggeration as there was hardly any jumping at all – moving with Jillian for 25 minutes (as the house walls shook and the flagpole bent like a branch too) has boosted my mood.

She does a series of exercises which involve both arms and legs (tin cans needed. I was feeling so unmotivated beforehand I couldn’t even be bothered filling the large water bottles, my new weights of choice) and there’s quite a few performed in the plank position. If you have dodgy wrists or shoulders, let alone a weak core, these can be tough. But there’s always the option to drop to your knees and dream of the day when you can stay up the whole time. I dream of that day! *no gritting here*

So, readers, hopefully when you’re not feeling the best, or something’s got you down – weather-related or not – you’ll still think of the fitfor15in15 mantra of doing something, anything, to get the blood flowing and the brain focused on moving, rather than what put you in the bad mood in the first place. I think it’s worked. Maybe a bit of baking now would kick it up a notch? Hmmm … there’s always those biscuits from the Kambly factory … 😉

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 19: 15 minutes of fast moving

After completing a recent five-day workout challenge (please also see the previous five days of posts), it was time to give the body a bit of a break. I’ve still managed to sweat, but the home-spun, off the top of my head, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout today was just a fitfor15in15 minutes in total.

My idea was to keep moving the whole time, and do whatever came to mind, all while trying to keep a natural flow. So I ended up doing a mix of squats and lunges with punches, crunches, skipping on the spot, knee lifts, plank, fast twisting on the spot and so on, with a warm up and cool down. Thanks to all the exercises I’ve done in the past five days, it felt like I had plenty of options to choose from.

Minutes before starting, I’d finished my morning routine of meditation and stretching, so I felt quite warmed-up to begin with. My arms and butt cried out a little while doing this surprisingly quick routine and I’m now sitting at my desk with that satisfied grin of knowing I don’t have to do anything more today. *grin*

And that’s enough from me! I’m very happy to hand over to my first guest contributor, Nat Gauld, who has been a fitness instructor in Australia for more than 10 years. In the 24 years we’ve known each other, Nat has gone from a curious and enthusiastic participant to a fully accredited and passionate fitness instructor. Take it away Nat!

February 15: Day two of the Fitness Blender Challenge

Last night, we had a great Valentine’s Day dinner with friends Pastora and Leo at this lovely restaurant on the Aare river in Bern. My suspicions were confirmed! I thought we might be dining out with them! We ate and drank too much – definitely not part of the Fitness Blender Challenge – but hey, it’s all about balance.

The back of my legs were really sore today, because of yesterday’s workout, so I struggled with squats and anything requiring a straight leg. Day two, at 44 minutes, was four minutes shorter than day one and didn’t feeeeeeel quite as tough (well, I didn’t sweat as much!), but that’s probably because I had to do the beginner’s suggestions thanks to my legs aching so much. No doubt, they’ll be like this tomorrow too.

Also, I’m lifting tin cans while the hosts, who were definitely feeling it, lift much heavier weights. A bit of me wishes I had heavier weights, as these arms need some serious toning, but at the same time, I’m pretty happy I still have full use of them right now. Maybe I’ll try a wine bottle in each hand tomorrow … and then resist the urge to open them afterwards,

In my hurry to get out the door yesterday, I forgot to add the collection of links to articles or things I’ve enjoyed reading during the week, so here they are …

In a continuing theme about accents, following last Saturday’s New York clip, here’s a tour of the British accents. Can you hear all the differences easily? If you’re from Great Britain, do you think the guy, who might be a professional voiceover artist, got them right?

Well, here’s something we should be proud of at fitfor15in15 – an article about doctors being urged to promote the “miracle cure” of regular exercise. We’re so regular we go every day! (Oops that came out wrong … of no, that didn’t make it any better either …)

I read a website, called The Private Life of a Girl, for little snippets of creative insight and blogging help and fashion … and … and … she posts daily so there’s always something! This one, about occasionally feeling directionless, was sweet.

Reading about the Food Babe this week was news to me, but apparently she’s big in America. Vani Hari is trying to get the chemicals and toxins taken out of packaging, among other things. Here’s an article from The Atlantic about her crusade.

And my friend Gabby sent me two interesting stories – one about what monks do in the modern world and an illustrated look at words in foreign languages that are hard to explain in English. Beautiful!

While reading all this and more, I failed to do any study or write the review for Marie Kondo’s book 😦 Slack! I’m onto it this week!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 11: 15 minutes of squats and sit ups and … chocolate

As part of Monday’s celebration, Leo bought me a 500gram bag of my favourite chocolate – M&M Peanuts. They’ll be finished tomorrow. Oops. This was NOT part of the fitfor15in15 plan … but gosh, they’re a whole world of yum for me.

Must. Stop. Eating. M&M Peanuts (tomorrow … when the bag is finished). I know I’m addicted, despite not feeling all that great after eating them. Sugar overdose, perhaps? The idea of that crunch gets me all excited, but now, gorged, the thought of half a kilo of chocolate in mah belly is not so cool. No more good news please. I can’t handle the treats.

I spent this morning in the city and then had a lovely lunch at my friend Claudia’s. She cooked a three-course lunch so I didn’t feel like dinner … but still managed to fit in a lot of those coloured balls. 😦

Because I was all juiced up on the little suckers, I did the minimum 15 minutes tonight – squats, lunges, sit ups and knees up with the tin cans going all over the place (in specific movements, not willy nilly) while watching the series Arrested Development. (We’re a little late to the party on this one and have just started watching season one.) But, sorry, back to the exercise …

While shifting my weight from one leg to the other in a side-to-side movement, I could actually feel the muscle above-and-to-the-right of my left knee, and above-and-to-the-left of my right knee. I’m sure they have proper names. But for now, let’s just call them WOW 1 and WOW 2. There are actual muscles there! They moved. Real muscles. Not fake. Gob-smacking, jaw-dropping get-out-of-town real muscles. I haven’t felt the muscles there since The Camino in 2011.

It’s amazing how doing 15 minutes at the moment doesn’t feel hard enough. Maybe exerting myself can be my new addiction? Must up the ante tomorrow … or maybe Friday … when all the nuts are gone.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Oh, and here are some photos from today …

fitfor15in15

Taken about 8.45am, on my walk to the bus

fitfor15in15

It might be too hard to see, but on this little cleaning cart is a witch broom, just like in Harry Potter. They still use these stick brooms to clean the streets here

fitfor15in15

A quick stroll along the Aare river in Bern

fitfor15in15

Using English expressions is sometimes considered cool. The play on words with Aare/Are is part of a safety campaign for swimming in the glacial river, which runs very fast in summer when all the snow has made its way down from the mountains

fitfor15in15

I think I may have found a good set of stairs to jog up. Looking up to the final part …

fitfor15in15

… and looking back down to where I’d come from. A potential killer workout

fitfor15in15

Walking across the Aare back into town. I’d been at a meeting in the building under the bridge, which was an old brewery. Sadly, no beers there now, just lots of fitness classes!

fitfor15in15

Walking the road home. It’s amazing how quickly the snow has melted, after just two sunny days

fitfor15in15

Icy fields

fitfor15in15

And finally, the view that greeted me from home